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New York Senate plans limo safety measures

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The state Senate and Sen. Tim Kennedy, chair of the Senate transportation committee, have introduced several new limo safety bills in response to the recommendations of the state’s stretch limousine passenger safety task force.

The task force was created in the wake of the 2018 limousine crash in Schoharie that killed 20 people.

One of the bills extends the life of the task force two more years, allowing the panel to hold public hearings and study the implementation of its 2022 recommendations, which were sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature in October.

Several task force members had complained that the task force had to rush completing its report before the findings of a state Inspector General report on the state’s oversight of the limo company, Prestige Limousine of Saratoga County.

The limo service, which was not authorized by the state to carry passengers in its oversized limousines, was operated by Nauman Hussain, whose family also operated a rundown motel in Wilton, just outside Saratoga Springs. Hussain kept a stable of about four limos in the parking lot of a Saratoga Springs warehouse. None had been properly inspected and all had significant mechanical issues, according to state Department of Transportation investigators, and the 2001 stretch Ford Excursion involved in the 2018 tragedy twice had been ordered off the road by DOT.

Perhaps the most important bill that the Senate will debate is one that would fine stretch limo operators $10,000 and subject them to up to six months in jail if they ignore a DOT order to keep a vehicle off the road after a failed inspection. Hussain was accused of ignoring two DOT orders to take the Excursion off the road, ripping two DOT “out-of-service” stickers off the Excursion’s windshield before renting out the vehicle repeatedly.

One of the bills would require that limos over 10 years old or with more than 350,000 miles be retired in New York state unless they are historic or ceremonial and aren’t used to carry passengers for hire.

The other bills would change the state’s rating system for limousines and require that stretch limos have special safety tools on hand in case of a crash.

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